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Social Services (Research Council)

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1962

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, in view of the Minister's statement at the Imperial College of Science and Technology about the excessive neglect of the human sciences in this country, what plans he has for the immediate establishment of a social sciences research council.

My noble Friend is arranging to consult the Government Departments and research councils concerned and the University Grants Committee about the views of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on this subject, referred to in my reply to the hon. Lady's Question of 18th July, 1961, which my noble Friend has now received.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary for Science aware that at the moment there are many social scientists engaged in post-graudate research who are finding it very difficult to look ahead to see whether enough money will be forthcoming to continue the work? Is not that a very serious situation, and only to be remedied by the early appointment of a human research council which would make money available to those people?

I would not agree that the only way in which one could have a substantial increase in research on the social sciences would be by the establishment of a further research council. Indeed, the hon. Lady will be aware that the amount of money given by the D.S.I.R. in one section of that field has nearly doubled in the last two years.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware of the serious danger of research projects in this field falling between the responsibility of the various councils—the Medical Research Council and the D.S.I.R., for instance—where there may not be specific industrial or medical content? Will he look at this matter again, as it is quite serious?

I would agree that there is that danger, and it is with that in mind that my noble Friend is arranging to consult all the organs of Government concerned, in order to get their advice.

In particular, what is the hon. Gentleman's Department doing to replace the excellent work that was carried out by the Tory Research Association in Aberdeen, the administration of which was changed some years ago?

The answer is that the Tory Research Station is still in being, but does very little, if anything, in the way of social science research.